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PhD position in Experimental Gravitational-Wave Detection

Do you have experience in experimental or computational physics, and would you like to work in a multidisciplinary team to develop and build the new generation of large-scale gravitational wave detectors? Please apply at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

3 maanden geleden


De Boelelaan, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
40 - 40 uur
€ 2395 - € 3061 per maand


We have a vacancy for a PhD position at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam to develop instrumentation for gravitational wave observatories.

At the heart of the Virgo and LIGO gravitational-wave detectors there are laser interferometers that measure distances with unprecedented sensitivity. While the basic operating principles are simple, they are very complex instruments. Our group develops the main interferometer simulation software used within the community and builds new hardware for shielding the ‘test masses’ from external vibrations. We have just begun preparing the detailed design of the Einstein Telescope (ET), a proposed new gravitational wave observatory in Europe. ET will be capable of delivering new and fascinating science over several decades, but its realisation will required substantial improvements to the most sensitive instruments every built.

This position is with Dr Conor Mow-Lowry, as part of the ERC Consolidator-Grant project OmniSens, and it focusses on research and development of ultra-sensitive vibration isolation systems. Your dutiesThe aim of this project is to apply laser interferometers to vibration isolation, allowing us to provide unprecedented performance improvements and extend the astrophysical reach of gravitational-wave observatories. Several big questions in astronomy can be answered observing the coalescence of heavy black holes deep in the universe. Unfortunately the gravitational-wave signals they create are at low frequencies, between 2 and 20 Hz, and they sit behind a wall of noise. Our new laser-interferometers provide a way to cancel this noise through a combination of novel design and extreme sensitivity. We will work to develop new instruments and techniques for the Virgo detector and design and build new hardware for ET.

The PhD position is affiliated with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and the successful candidates will be fully embedded in the gravitational-wave group at Nikhef in Science Park.


You have a Master’s degree in Physics or a closely related discipline. Excellent analysis skills and an analytical mind-set, as well as excellent communication skills, including written English language proficiency are required. You have an ability to work independently and as a member of a research team. A collaborative attitude is strongly desired. You should have an interest in both software development and experimental physics, and have experience with numerical modelling and hands-on laboratory experiments.


A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,395 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,061 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus, contribution to commuting expenses
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge
  • discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance)

Additional information

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until August 31, 2021. We might contact good candidates before this deadline.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Conor Mow-Lowry
Position: Associate Professor
E-mail: c.m.mow-lowry@vu.nl

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